It’s that time of year when we make promises to ourselves that, according to statistics, only 9% of us will keep through the end of the year. According to the American Psychological Association, lasting resolutions should be realistic, start small, and focus on changing one behavior at a time. My new year’s resolution of choosing secondhand shopping over new retail checks all the boxes for lasting change.
Prior to this 2020, my wardrobe contained exactly two secondhand items. My closet has been built on new retail internet, discount store, or brand outlet shopping. An interest in thrifted and secondhand clothing was piqued by Instagram bloggers posting amazing outfits styled with incredible and unique items found through secondhand channels. I could not believe that they were finding these high-quality, luxury, unique, and interesting items for such low prices, and was experiencing serious style envy.
Thrift shopping can be extremely overwhelming when you are used to nicely merchandised displays, organized racks, and well-defined departments. Entering Goodwill stores, I am faced with racks and racks of clothing organized only by clothing type (pants, shirts etc.) and color, and no idea of where to begin. For me, this is both intimidating and frustrating, making for a stressful shopping experience, rather than an enjoyable treasure hunt.
Luckily there are plenty of mobile app and online options that allow you to search specifically for what you want, negotiate prices, and in some cases return items that do not work out. My favorite secondhand shopping platforms are Poshmark where you’re buying from, negotiating, and communicating directly with sellers, and ThredUp, which is basically online consignment. ThredUp allows returns on the vast majority of items, although there is a nominal restocking fee. There is also Depop, which I have not used but hear great things about, and the granddaddy of online person-to-person commerce, eBay, is a strong contender in the secondhand clothing market.
I have come to love secondhand shopping, and not only will I make this my primary source for clothes shopping in 2021. I also intend to make it a practice long afterward for three main reasons.
Uniqueness of Items
This was the main reason for my attraction to secondhand shopping. I find items, particularly via ThredUp, that are incredibly unique. Clothing I’ve never seen before, and brands I’ve never heard of. One of my favorite purchases doesn’t even have a label, and sizing would suggest it was made in Italy. The multicolored plaid blouse is a perfect addition to my wardrobe for a mere $17.
On other platforms such as eBay and Poshmark, vintage and homemade one-of-a kind items are also available. These are the types of items that can be instrumental in defining personal style and separate you from the pack.
I am still exploring the depths of this topic but, am stunned at the impact our shopping habits have on the environment. As many as 3 of 5 garments produced will end up in a landfill, and each year the average American generates approximately 80 pounds of textile waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2018 Americans generated 13 million tons of clothing and footwear waste. Textiles make up 9.5 percent of municipal waste, and currently has a recycling rate of only 15 percent.
Buying secondhand allows me to contribute to the environmental solution of clothing waste. If I can “save” items from entering our landfills, I have another reason to feel great about my purchase.
Who doesn’t want to pay less? I am always opposed to paying full price for clothing. Waiting for a coveted item to go on sale is almost like a game for me, timing the exact right time to buy, to pay the least. With secondhand shopping, I’m almost guaranteed to be getting a great deal. Whether it’s the bargain basement prices of the Goodwill or the greatly reduced pricing of little worn or new with tags items from Poshmark or ThredUp, I know the reduction form original retail is considerable.
I’ve purchased luxury clothing, from brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren Collection, and Ted Baker London, many new with tags, for as much as 70 percent off original purchase price. Just about every brand of clothing can be found on the secondhand market, from Zara and H&M to Armani and Gucci, it’s all there (for less).
Next time you’re in the market for a clothing item, give secondhand a chance first. Recently, I shopped for a turquoise turtleneck and found several options on Poshmark. I purchased one new with tags for $12. The online platforms are also fun to just browse if that’s what you’re into. Search by brand, color, size, or clothing category. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll be doing a good thing for your style, the environment, and your wallet.